The Finals Most Valuable Player Award was created in 1969, which was 14 years after the first regular-season MVP Award. That means that players like Bill Russell were unable to ever win a single Finals MVP despite winning 11 championships.
Some players have flourished at the opportunity of winning the award in the Finals. Some facts include Michael Jordan leading all players with six Finals MVPs, while LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kawhi Leonard are the only players who have won the award with more than one franchise. LeBron is the only player to win the award with three different teams.
Here are every NBA franchise’s total Finals MVPs won by a player on their team.
Atlanta Hawks - None
The last time the Hawks won an NBA championship was in 1958. The team was still based in St. Louis at the time. Bob Pettit would have been likely the Finals MVP if the award existed. The team never made the Conference Finals again until 2015. The Hawks were the No. 1 seed with a team led by Al Horford, Jeff Teague, and Paul Millsap, but were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Hawks made the Conference Finals in 2021 and were led by Trae Young and John Collins. The team played the Milwaukee Bucks to six games but were eventually eliminated. Had Young been healthy for the whole series, who knows how it could have ended.
Boston Celtics - 6
Larry Bird - 2 (1984, 1986)
Paul Pierce - 1 (2008)
Cedrick Maxwell - 1 (1981)
Joe White - 1 (1976)
John Havlicek - 1 (1974)
The only player to win multiple Finals MVPS for the Celtics was Larry Bird. Bird led the Celtics past the Bucks in the Conference Finals to play the Lakers, who were led by Magic Johnson. In Game 4, Bird led the Celtics past his old college rival in seven games. Bird averaged 27.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game.
Then, in 1986 he won his third straight regular-season MVP and the Celtics lost just one game through the first three rounds. In the series clincher against the Rockets, Bird scored a triple-double of 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. Bird averaged 24.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.5 assists in the Finals to claim MVP.
Brooklyn Nets - None
In the team’s history, they own two ABA championships. Julius Erving led the Nets to their last championships in 1976, while the team also won in 1974. However, the team has never won an NBA championship. The Nets came close by making the Finals in 2002 and 2003 but were defeated by the Lakers and Spurs respectively.
The Nets have won just four division titles, which include 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006. The team today has their best shot of ending the 16-year drought, but also their long NBA championship drought as well. All signs point to Kevin Durant being the favorite to win Finals MVP if the team can win.
Chicago Bulls - 6
Michael Jordan - 6 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
Jordan has won all six Finals MVP trophies with the Bulls. Jordan never lost a series in the championship series, going a perfect 6-0. Jordan won his first three titles from 1991 to 1993, beating the Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Suns respectively. Then, he won three more from 1996 to 1998, where he defeated the SuperSonics and then the Jazz two straight times.
Jordan is the only player in NBA history to have won the NBA MVP, Finals MVP, All-Star Game MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year awards in his career. He also holds the career scoring record (30.12) and career playoff scoring average (33.45).
Charlotte Hornets - None
The Hornets have never made the Conference Finals in team history. The younger years of Alonzo Mourning helped the Hornets make the second round in 1993. Then, Baron Davis and Eddie Jones helped the team make the second round two times. However, the team has struggled to find consistent success, making the playoffs just three times since 2002.
The team was defeated in the first round of the playoffs each time. All-time leading scorer Kemba Walker led the team to the playoffs only once. Now, this year’s squad is looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Cleveland Cavaliers - 1
LeBron James - 1 (2016)
In 2016, the Cavaliers met the Golden State Warriors for a rematch in the Finals. The Warriors had defeated the Cavaliers in 2015 and were now heavily favored after winning 73 games during the regular season. Cleveland fell behind 3-1 in the series, but James registered back-to-back 41 point games in Games 5 and 6.
In Game 7, James posted a triple-double and made “The Block” on Andre Iguodala as Cleveland won its first professional sports championships in 52 years and became the first team to storm back from a 3-1 series deficit. James became just the third player to record a triple-double in a Game 7. He averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists. 2.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks in the series. He became the first player in league history to lead all five statistical categories and was the unanimous Finals MVP selection.
Dallas Mavericks - 1
Dirk Nowitzki - 1 (2011)
In 2006, the Mavericks were taken down by the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade in six games. In 2011, the two teams met again, but this time the Heat had acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh before the season. In Game 1, Nowitzki tore a tendon in his left middle finger, but the MRIs were negative, so he played through it. The following game, he led Dallas back from an 88-73 deficit to tie the series.
After Miami took a 2-1 series lead, Nowitzki hit a game-winning basket despite carrying a 101-degree fever. It sparked comparisons to the “Flu Game” from Michael Jordan in 1997. The Mavericks won the final two games, which included Nowitzki scoring 10 fourth-quarter points in Game 6. The championship was the team’s first-ever.
Denver Nuggets - None
The Nuggets have made the Conference Finals in 1978, 1985, 2009, and 2020, but all came up short. The team has never played in the NBA Finals. The year before joining the NBA, 1976, the Nuggets played in the ABA Finals but lost to the Nets.
Call it bad timing or bad luck, the Nuggets are still looking for that first championship. Great players like Alex English and Carmelo Anthony have come up short. With reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and a cast of Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, and Michael Porter Jr., if healthy, fans believe this could be the team that finally gets it done.
Detroit Pistons - 3
Chauncey Billups - 1 (2004)
Isiah Thomas - 1 (1990)
Joe Dumars - 1 (1989)
Billups led the Pistons over the heavily favored Lakers in five games. He averaged 21.0 points, 5.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. That included shooting 50.1% from the field, 47.1% on three-pointers, and 92.9% at the free-throw line, making him a member of the Finals 50-40-90 club.
In the late 80s, the duo of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars had the Pistons playing like the best team in the league. That included winning back-to-back championships. Thomas won in 1990 as he averaged 27.6 points, 7.0 assists, and 5.2 rebounds. In 1989, Dumars averaged 27.3 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.8 rebounds in four games.
Indiana Pacers - None
The Pacers have never won an NBA Championship. Before transitioning to the NBA, the team was three-time champions with the ABA. The Pacers won the ABA title in 1970, 1972, and 1973. The team also made the ABA Finals in 1969 and 1975 as well.
The Pacers have made the NBA Finals once and that was in 2000. After Michael Jordan left the league, it opened up the path for some of his longtime rivals. That included Reggie Miller, but the team was eliminated by the Lakers.
Golden State Warriors - 4
Kevin Durant - 2 (2017, 2018)
Andre Iguodala - 1 (2015)
Rick Barry - 1 (1975)
When Durant won the Finals MVP in 2017, he left no doubt who the victor should be. Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in five games. His lowest scoring output was 31 points in Game 3. The following year, Durant averaged 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists to win back-to-back Finals MVPs.
In 2015, the Warriors were led by a strong offensive showing from Steph Curry, but the Finals MVP Award went to Andre Iguodala. Iguodala was the second-leading scorer on the team with 16.3 points and he shot over 50% from the field, as well as over 40% from three-point range. He was also credited for playing great defense on LeBron James.
Houston Rockets - 2
Hakeem Olajuwon - 2 (1994, 1995)
Olajuwon led the Rockets to the championship in both 1994 and 1995. In the 1994 Finals, he led the Rockets past the Knicks in a seven-game series. Olajuwon triumphed over his former college rival Patrick Ewing after the Knicks took a 3-2 series lead. In Game 6, Olajuwon blocked a potential game-winning three-pointer to win 86-84. Then, in Game 7, Olajuwon posted a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, which brought Houston their first professional sports title since the Houston Oilers won the American Football League championship in 1961.
The Rockets returned to the Finals in 1995 against the Orlando Magic and Shaquille O’Neal. Olajuwon outscored O’Neal in every game, scoring more than 30 points in each contest. He raised his regular-season rate by five points, while O’Neal’s dropped. He was named Finals MVP after averaging 33.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks.
Los Angeles Clippers - None
The Clippers were a long-lasting laughing stock in the league for years. When the team acquired Chris Paul in 2011, their fortunes turned around. With that said, Paul never led the team past the second round of the playoffs. It wasn’t until this past season that the Clippers made their first Conference Finals appearance in team history.
The Suns defeated the Clippers, but the team didn’t have Kawhi Leonard, who tore his ACL. Had Leonard not gotten hurt, we might have been talking about the Clippers making or winning their first-ever championship. Instead, we are left wondering what if.
Los Angeles Lakers - 13
Shaquille O’Neal - 3 (2000, 2001, 2001)
Magic Johnson - 3 (1980, 1982,1987)
Kobe Bryant - 2 (2009, 2010)
LeBron James - 1 (2020)
James Worthy -1 (1988)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 1 (1985)
Wilt Chamberlain - 1 (1972)
Jerry West - 1 (1969)
The Lakers own the most Finals MVPs among all teams in the league. The Lakers have two players that have captured at least three Finals MVPs. He landed his first MVP in 2000, which featured a 41-point performance in Game 6 to clinch the championship. O’Neal is only one of three players to win the NBA MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Finals MVP in the same year. The other players are Willis Reed and Michael Jordan. O’Neal paired with Kobe Bryant to win three titles, while Bryant won two titles of his own without O’Neal in 2009 and 2010.
The other player with at least three Finals MVPs is Magic Johnson. The famed point guard paired with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, another Lakers Finals MVP, lead the Lakers to decorated success in the 80s. Jerry West is the only player to win the Finals MVP on a losing team, while LeBron James won his fourth Finals MVP in 2020, which was with his third NBA team.
Memphis Grizzlies - None
Since the Grizzlies joined the NBA as an expansion team in 1995-1996, the team has never made the NBA Finals. The Grizzlies did make the Conference Finals once in 2013. The team was led by Mike Conley Jr., Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol. The bruising duo of Randolph and Gasol led a formidable defense, which also saw Gasol win Defensive Player of the Year.
The Grizzlies were defeated by the Spurs though. Out of 11 playoff appearances, the Grizzlies have made it past the first round just three times. With Ja Morant and a group of budding young players, the area is hopeful he can be the team’s savior.
Miami Heat - 3
LeBron James - 2 (2012, 2013)
Dwyane Wade - 1 (2006)
Dwyane Wade led the Heat to a championship in 2006 with Shaquille O’Neal, where he won Finals MVP. Then, when LeBron James became a free agent in 2010, Wade was able to recruit both James and Chris Bosh to Miami. After falling to the Mavericks In 2011, the Heat won titles in 2012 and 2013.
James won Finals MVP in both seasons. In 2012, James registered a triple-double in Game 5 to clinch the series against the Thunder. He averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists. In 2013, the Heat was nearly defeated by the Spurs. In Game 6, James recorded his second triple-double of the series, which included 16 fourth-quarter points. In Game 7, he tied the Finals record for most points scored in a Game 7 victory with 37. For the series, he averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.3 steals.
Milwaukee Bucks - 2
Giannis Antetokounmpo - 1 (2021)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 1 (1971)
Before the 1970-1971 season, the Bucks acquired All-Star guard Oscar Robertson. The Bucks won a league-best 66 victories, including a then-record 20 straight games. Abdul-Jabbar led the league in scoring with 31.7 points per game. The Bucks swept the Baltimore Bullets in four games. For the series, he averaged 27.0 points per game and shot 60.5% from the field.
It took the Bucks 50 years to win their next title. After missing time in the Conference Finals, Antetokounmpo returned in time for the Finals. In his Finals debut, he recorded 20 points and 17 rebounds in a loss to the Suns. He then registered back-to-back 40 points and 10 rebound games, joining Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 as the only player with those numbers. In Game 6, Antetokounmpo recorded 50 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks. For the series, he averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks.
Minnesota Timberwolves - None
From 1997 to 2004, the Timberwolves made the playoffs each season. Since 2004, the Timberwolves have made the playoffs just once. It shows how dominant Kevin Garnett was during that period and what he meant to the franchise. The Timberwolves nearly made the NBA Finals in 2004, a year that saw Garnett win the regular season MVP.
The Timberwolves won 58 games and made the Conference Finals for the first time in team history. Unfortunately, the team fell to the Lakers and has been struggling to find consistent success since then.
New Orleans Pelicans - None
The Pelicans joined the league in 2002-2003 as the New Orleans Hornets. The team changed its name in 2013-2014. Despite having both names, the team has never made the Conference Finals. The Pelicans have made the playoffs seven times and made the second round of the playoffs two times.
The Pelicans appeared to be having a great season in 2017-2018. The tandem of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis were mowing down the league. However, Cousins sustained what would ultimately be a career-altering injury. Davis, like Chris Paul, led the team to the second round of the playoffs, but ultimately jumped ship to chase a title elsewhere.
New York Knicks - 2
Willis Reed - 2 (1970, 1973)
The 1969-1970 season saw the Knicks win a franchise-record 60 games and set a then single-season record with an 18 game winning streak. Reed became the first player to win NBA MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Finals MVP. Reed’s best performance of the season was in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Lakers, where he played through a severe thigh injury, which featured a torn muscle.
The 1973 Finals saw a reinvented version of Reed. His regular-season performance was considered a down year, where he averaged only 11.0 points per game. In the Finals, Reed was a defensive powerhouse and helped anchor a defense that led New York past the Lakers in five games.
Oklahoma City Thunder - 1
Dennis Johnson - 1 (1979)
The SuperSonics clinched the Pacific Division with a 52-30 record and met the Washington Bullets in the 1979 Finals. The team lost the first game but rattled off four straight wins to claim the series. Johnson averaged almost 23 points with six rebounds and six assists per game. He scored 32 points in a Game 4 overtime victory.
The franchise had other moments of nearly winning a title. In 1996, Gary Payton led the team to the Finals but was ousted by the Bulls. In 2012, a young crew of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden led the team to the Finals against the Heat but were taken down by the established veteran squad of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Orlando Magic - None
The Magic officially became a franchise in the 1989-1990 season. After three losing seasons, luck found their way as they landed the No. 1 overall pick in 1992, which the team used on Shaquille O’Neal. After his first season, the team went 41-41 but eventually pieced everything together to make a run to the NBA Finals in 1995. However, the Magic were defeated by the Rockets and O’Neal eventually left for the Lakers.
The Magic made another run to the NBA Finals in 2009, where they upset the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James. Dwight Howard had established himself as the top center in the league and a frequent Defensive Player of the Year winner. The Magic came up short this time as well, as the team was defeated by Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Philadelphia 76ers - 1
Moses Malone - 1 (1983)
During the 1982-1983 season, Malone averaged 15.3 rebounds per game, which led the league for the third straight year. He also averaged 24.5 points, which was the fifth-best. He led the 76ers to a historic run in the playoffs, where the team lost only one game. The 76ers marched to the NBA Finals and swept the Lakers in four games. Malone averaged 26.0 points, 15.8 rebounds, and outrebounded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 72-30.
The 76ers have made the Finals once in the last 25 years. Allen Iverson won the MVP and led the team to the Finals in 2001, but was defeated by the Lakers. Now, the team is hopeful that Joel Embiid can be the next Philly big man legend.
Phoenix Suns - None
Two times the Suns nearly ended their championship drought. In 1993, regular-season MVP Charles Barkley led the Suns to the Finals. They met the Bulls, who were in their third straight Finals. It’s well documented that Jordan had a chip on his shoulder for losing out the regular season MVP to Barkley. In the end, Jordan triumphed and won Finals MVP.
The Suns made the Finals for the first time since 1993 in 2021. It was the first time Chris Paul played in the Finals. Devin Booker drew comparisons to Kobe Bryant, while Deandre Ayton showed his promise as a future superstar. In the end, the Bucks won in six games. Now, the Suns are contending for the best record in the league.
Portland Trail Blazers - 1
Bill Walton - 1 (1977)
To make the NBA Finals, Walton led the Trail Blazers past the Lakers in four games. Walton averaged 19.3 points, 14.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.3 blocks against his fellow UCLA alum in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This set up a date in the Finals against the favored Philadelphia 76ers.
The Trail Blazers lost their first two games, but the team won the next four to win the title. Walton scored 20 points and added 23 rebounds in the series-clinching Game 6 win. For the series, Walton averaged 18.5 points, 19.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 3.7 blocks. Walton drew praise and was considered the best big man to play the game.
Sacramento Kings - None
The Kings are considered one of the original members of the league. When the team was based in Rochester, the Rochester Royals, the Kings won their first and only NBA championship in 1950. It was the team’s second year in the league. At the time, there was no such award known as Finals MVP.
The best players to never win the award were Oscar Robertson and Chris Webber. Robertson never led the team to the Finals despite great overall seasons. Webber nearly led the team to the Finals in 2002 but was controversially eliminated. Since 2006, the Kings have failed to make the playoffs, so the wait for a Finals MVP in Sacramento will continue to belong.
San Antonio Spurs - 5
Tim Duncan - 3 (1999, 2003, 2005)
Kawhi Leonard - 1 (2014)
Tony Parker - 1 (2007)
The Spurs are considered one of the best franchises in league history and that has a lot to do with Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Ending his career as one of the greatest power forwards of all time, Duncan won three Finals MVPs. Between his offense and defense, Duncan is the only player in league history to be selected to the All-NBA and All-Defensive Team for 13 straight years. He is the all-time leader in blocks in the playoffs with 568.
The Spurs have two other players win a Finals MVP. Among Duncan’s five championships, Tony Parker stole one from Duncan. Parker averaged 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in the 2007 Finals. Duncan’s fifth title came in 2014, where Kawhi Leonard was second to Parker in points but was credited for playing great defense on LeBron James.
Toronto Raptors - 1
Kawhi Leonard - 1 (2019)
In his only season, Leonard led the Raptors to the Finals in what was described as one of the best all-time playoff appearances ever. Leonard’s 732 points during the playoffs were the third-best scoring total for a single NBA postseason, trailing LeBron James (748, 2018), and Michael Jordan (759, 1992). That included his magical game-winning three-pointer over the 76ers in the second round. In the Finals, Leonard led the Raptors in an upset over the Warriors, who had made their fifth straight trip to the Finals.
Leonard helped the Raptors take a 3-1 lead. In Game 4, Leonard scored 36 points with 12 rebounds in a 105-92 win on the road. After the team dropped Game 5, Leonard scored 22 points in a 114-110 win in Game 6 as Toronto won their first championship in franchise history. Leonard joined LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to win Finals MVP with two teams.
Utah Jazz - None
The Jazz has been one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA since joining the league right before the 1974-1975 season. Out of 48 seasons, the Jazz has qualified for the playoffs 29 times. The team’s best chance of winning their first NBA championship was in 1997 and 1998 when John Stockton and Karl Malone led the Jazz to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals.
Unfortunately for Jazz fans, Michael Jordan and the Bulls took them down two straight seasons. The Jazz has not made the NBA Finals since. One time, the Jazz made the Conference Finals in 2007 but were ousted by the Spurs. Last year, the Jazz were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference but were eliminated in the second round.
Washington Wizards - 1
Wes Unseld - 1 (1978)
This Finals MVP is a hot topic among Washington fans. Teammate Elvin Hayes averaged about 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Unseld averaged about nine points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. One take is that the award was given to Unseld because he was a true team player that also anchored the defense. Another take is that Unseld had 15 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in Game 7 to win the championship and that was the best performance among all players.
The idea that some players get Finals MVP because of their best performance in the last game has been around for a while. Some believe that is why Magic Johnson (1980), Cedric Maxwell (1981), and James Worth (1988) also won. Still, Unseld was considered an ultimate “glue guy” and was a well-rounded player deserving of the award.